Call for Australia to ditch Super 12
February 21, 2002

The boss of Australia's players' union believes they should ditch the Super 12 competition in response to New Zealand's scuttling of the expansion of the competition.

CEO Tony Dempsey described the controversial NZRU decision as a big blow both for Australian rugby and his members.

"What it means is a lot of our players face the possibility of being unemployed as professional rugby players next year," Dempsey told the Daily Telegraph.

He said the decision raises a bigger issue about the development of professional rugby in Australia.

"How do we go about expanding the professional game when we have organisations outside the country who are limiting what we can do?" Dempsey asked.

"When the Super 12 contract comes up for renewal in three years the ARU has to have a serious think whether it wants to be part of it again."

He said if Australia enters into a similar agreement in 2005, rugby risks not being able to compete in the mass market with the AFL and rugby league.

"When they come up to renegotiate the contract there should be some sort of mechanism for resolving those issues rather than just having a unanimous three-party agreement," he said.

Dempsey said the ARU should be looking at some other model or competition which they can control, without the influence of external forces such as the New Zealand Rugby Union.

And he warns there is a need for that to take place sooner rather than later.

"I think there needs to be a working party with the key stakeholders in Australian rugby to work this issue out," Dempsey said.

"How do we expand the game outside NSW, Queensland and the ACT and arouse interest if we can't have a professional team in those other states?"

"The benefit of the Super 12 has plateaued and it is almost holding us back because we can't expand it, even though the interest and the momentum is there to do so," Dempsey said.

"It is not the competition that is going to rival the AFL because there are only three teams who play five or six home games in any one season."

Dempsey said there are enough contracted players in Australia for a fourth provincial team.

"The idea was to put more players under contract to train with the squads so those players would be available for a fourth team next year," he said.

There are still only about 90 pro fulltime playing positions in Australia.

"And when you think about it there are only three teams, which means only 66 professional players at any one time during a year playing," Dempsey said.

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